How to Ask Questions

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by RiJoRI, Dec 18, 2008.

  1. RiJoRI

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Aug 15, 2007
    536
    26
    I came across this pool of wisdom: http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

    While some of it is geared towards software, a lot is generally applicable. Unfortunately, I fear those who really need it won't read it!

    --Rich
     
  2. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
    2,040
    287

    Another great quote: "Language is the currency of thought." If such is the case, I think we're in a period of hyperinflation!


    Eric
     
  3. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    145
    That is a very good article Rich, having moderated the forums here for over 5 years I have seen all manner of good and bad questions. The part that I think is the main stumbling block for most people is the part on Describe the goal, not the step:

    This is so important. Because there are a million ways to get from A to B, the best way to get someone to appreciate you problem, and hence be able to offer the best advice, is to describe where you are, where you are going and what in between is presenting a block. Questions such as "I need help designing XXXX using XXXX, Pls help" achieves none of this and are the questions least likely to to get any help. We have said many times, if you want help, you first have to help yourself.

    Good read, thanks for sharing.

    Dave
     
  4. megawatts

    Active Member

    Dec 24, 2008
    35
    0
    If I may, using proper grammer, punctuation, and not using all capital letters goes a long way in understanding what is being asked. Spell-chek is our friend.

    Also providing all known information concerning the inquiry will eliminate considerable quess work.
     
  5. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    Don't forget the tendency of some to use the forum as if they were text messaging on a cell phone. Contrary to what some think, it is not an international language.
     
  6. megawatts

    Active Member

    Dec 24, 2008
    35
    0
    Well, here's a thought; maybe "textmessaging" and "shorthand" NOT ALLOWED should be pointed out in the rules of joining this forum? We use enough acronyms in today's language as it is.
     
  7. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
    15,649
    2,348
    Hello,

    It also often happens that the title is just "help" , sometimes even with a lot of p's behind it.
    It does not say anything about what they want.
    It also often happens that the question starts with "I want a project, I need it tomorrow".
    It is not very smart to ask it so late.

    I am dutch, but I try to give my best english.


    Greetings,
    Bertus
     
  8. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    20,766
    2,536
    Which is better than most. :)
     
  9. Napoleon

    Active Member

    Dec 21, 2008
    45
    0
    What?

    You guys cant read minds ?
    Pfft!
     
  10. megawatts

    Active Member

    Dec 24, 2008
    35
    0
    Nope. Can't read Tarot cards or palms either.
     
  11. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    145
    The irony of it all is that those that do not structure their questions clearly and concisely, typically are those that do not get the help they want/need. It really is in the OPs interests to ask questions properly.

    Dave
     
  12. eblc1388

    Senior Member

    Nov 28, 2008
    1,542
    102
    As per Dave's invaluable comment, try not to compose and post your problem directly via the forum editor.

    Very few can present a case effortlessly and clearly at the first draft. I can't.

    Type your problem in a text editor. Go over it and edit it. Think about it before posting. A well edited post will get most attentions.

    Have you included your goal or what you want to achieve? This is very important.

    State what steps you are trying to achieve your goal and what seems to be the problem?

    Would a diagram or circuit helps others to better understand your problem or your "solution"?

    If the problem is related to something going HIGH/LOW in different times, can you draw up a simple timing diagram telling which outputs or inputs are suppose to change?

    Have you placed the information logically in separate paragraphs instead of a densely packed one half a page long?

    Last but not least, think very carefully of a appropriate title. This would catch the eyes of many and give a correct perspective of what to expect in the content. It is also of vital importance for future search and reference by other members.

    If you do the above, you are helping others to help yourself.
     
  13. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    145
    I cannot stress this enough: the title is of utmost importance. One of the most used features of the forums is the New Posts forum searcher which searches for all new posts since your last visit. Many, and I would suggest the majority of, members track down new posts using this feature. If you click the above link you will note it lists the thread titles (and provides a short tooltip of the opening line of the thread); this is how many people will stumble across you post, and the suitability of the title will have a large bearing on whether members will click on that thread and read your question.

    Dave
     
  14. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    15,815
    282
    Some of the best post here might well go into a sticky note. I am particularly taken by eblc1388's observation.
     
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